For many professions, continuing professional development (CPD) (usually technical) is seen as a necessity, a vital part of work and individual development. The Law Society of Scotland sets out that Scottish solicitors have to do a minimum of 20 hours’ CPD a year, and Scottish teachers recognise its importance with 35 hours’ CPD expected a year.
And yet as a business leader, where we are looking after our most precious resource — our people — we are not obliged to engage in any CPD. What does that say about the way we have come to think of our people? That effective, good leadership is not something we need to develop or continue to work at?
Surely it is a leader’s responsibility to take time to really become the best kind of leader they can be, for the benefit of their business, the people who work for them and for themselves. So CPD, as taken for granted as important in professions such as accountancy, law and medicine, might be something that leaders in other businesses might consider with the same seriousness in their roles.
Your leadership style
As a start, it’s worth stopping and analysing what kind of leader you are now. Do you lead from the front or motivate from the sidelines? Do you micromanage or see yourself at providing the overall vision and letting others deal with the details? And how have you developed your style — from inspirational managers you’ve had yourself or terrible managers you’ve sworn never to be like, or just an extension of your previous working approach?
Good leadership, or a large part of the responsibility of leadership, is about being good at people management, and fundamental to this is communication. By understanding your leadership style and communication strengths and gaps, this can help you see if there are opportunities to grasp in your skills, challenges you avoid, or if your approach is less effective with some teams or scenarios than others. You can then look at where training and coaching or a different approach could help you and the business.
There are many ways to undertake professional development, with a great range of courses and training available online or face to face, and inspirational books available on successful leadership approaches. Personal, tailored coaching can also be highly effective, working to address specific development issues at your workplace. A great place to start is understanding your leadership preference.
CPD is not just about taking courses. Some of the most valuable professional development can be achieved through workplace activities and talking to colleagues, asking for feedback and sharing knowledge.
Your professional network can be a great source of learning too. There may be someone who can mentor you, or others in similar roles who you can learn from and exchange insights with.
And by being a mentor yourself, or taking on leadership roles outside your business, for example at a community event or fundraising initiative, you can further develop your skills and understanding.
Whether you set yourself a specific number of CPD hours to complete a year or think more flexibly, it’s important to give yourself the space and time to keep learning and developing your leadership skills — helping your business, your people and yourself.
Tania Watson is the founder of Creative Coaching and an executive coach, organisational consultant and leadership specialist. Creative Coaching is a successful company dedicated to the development of senior leaders in organisations through one to one coaching, intact team development and group facilitation. If you or someone from your organisation would like to have a no obligation conversation about how Creative Coaching may be able to help, please email Tania directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.